India's great healthcare challenge and opportunity

Posted On Tuesday, 13 June 2017 12:29

health mediIndia added 450 million people over the 25 years to 2016, a period during which the proportion of people living in poverty fell by half. This period of rising prosperity has been marked by a "dual - disease burden", a continuing rise in communicable diseases and a spurt in non - communicable or "lifestyle" diseases, which accounted for half of all deaths in 2015, up from 42 per cent in 2001-03.

The result of this disease burden on a growing and aging population, economic development and increasing health awareness is a healthcare industry that has grown to $81.3 billion (Rs 54,086 lakh crore) in 2013 and is now projected to grow at 17 per cent by 2020, up from 11 per cent in 1990.

As that happens, in rural areas, mobile technology and improved data services are expected to play a critical role in improving healthcare delivery. Although limited, some companies are also investing in innovative services and creating lucrative yet low - cost digital and device solutions, an example of which would be GE Healthcare's Lullaby Baby Warmer.

However, despite some advances, India's healthcare sector must deal with a plethora of challenges.

With the lowest government spend and public spend, as a proportion of gross domestic product (GDP), and the lowest per capita health spend China spends 5.6 times more, the US 125 times more Indmet more than 62 per cent of their health expenses from their personal savings, called "out - of - pocket expenses", compared with 13.4 per cent in the US, 10 per cent in the UK and 54 per cent in China.

India's existing infrastructure is just not enough to cater to the growing demand.

While the private sector dominates healthcare delivery across the country, a majority of the population living below the poverty line (BPL) the ability to spend Rs 47 per day in urban areas, Rs 32 per day in rural areas continues to rely on the under - financed and short staffed public sector for its healthcare needs, as a result of which these remain unmet.

Moreover, the majority of healthcare professionals happen to be concentrated around urban areas where consumers have higher paying power, leaving rural areas underserved.

India meets the global average in a number of physicians, but 74 per cent of its doctors cater to a third of the urban population, or no more than 442 million people, according to a KPMG report.

India compares unfavourably with China and the US in a number of hospital beds and nurses. The country is 81 per cent short of specialists at rural community health centres (CHCs), and the private sector accounts for 63 per cent of hospital beds, according to government health and family welfare statistics.

New source: health news

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